International edition
August 24, 2019

Interview with gaming industry veteran Gavin Isaacs

"Mobile is, and will continue to be, a key driver in moving the gaming industry forward"

Gavin Isaacs on US sports betting: "There's a lot of potential to capitalize on the growing adoption, and opportunities to explore new game formats around sports and lottery. Each jurisdiction is a little different so optimization is a way off."
United States | 06/19/2019

Isaacs recently joined startup Jackpocket, and he tells Yogonet this venture was already ahead of the game in the lottery space and it will yield new opportunities as more lotteries turn to mobile technology to increase sales. About DoJ's interpretation of Wire Act potentially affecting lotteries, he says "in the 21st Century this makes no sense." He sees the major media companies enter the gambling space, and he's open to partner with them.

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avin Isaacs was appointed last month to Galaxy Gaming’s Board of Directors, and in February this year, he also became the Non-Executive Chairman of SBTech. Furthermore, Isaacs is working as a senior advisor to the Board of Directors of Jackpocket, a New York-based startup working to help modernize state lotteries. This board includes investor partners from BlueRun Ventures and Conductive Ventures, New York-based Subversive Capital, and the executive team, with the aim of setting growth strategies and guidance for the mobile lottery startup’s expansion to new jurisdictions this year and further on.

Why have you decided to join Jackpocket? How is this startup bringing something new and innovative to the gaming industry, and why do you think it will be successful?

I met Jackpocket’s Founder and CEO Peter Sullivan a few years ago and have been following the company’s growth ever since. Understanding that mobile is — and will continue to be — a key driver in moving the gaming industry forward, I recognized that Jackpocket was already ahead of the game in the lottery space, and the opportunities their offering will yield as more lotteries turn to mobile technology to increase sales. The fact that lotteries don’t need to lift a finger for the company to come in and drive incremental revenue in significant, record-breaking volumes, makes the prospect of engaging Jackpocket a no-brainer. Short term, the company is riding a huge wave of momentum, just having closed a USD 21 million Series B funding round, expanding to Texas, and priming itself to launch in several major markets in 2019. With a Series C on the horizon and more lotteries embracing mobile, I expect Jackpocket will grow at an exponential rate. Most importantly I really like and am excited by the team Pete has put together.

Could you give us further insights into the projects Jackpocket is working on, and your specific contributions as a senior adviser to the board? What key concepts could you pass on from your long history in the gaming industry to this new startup?

Right now the company’s in high growth mode and in conversation with a number of state lotteries to bring the Jackpocket app to more players — and specifically, demonstrating to lotteries how the app has been incredibly successful at attracting a new demographic of younger, mobile-first players. As a senior advisor I’m offering guidance on expansion strategy, and drawing from my experience innovating in regulated markets to help the company navigate those hurdles state to state. Their work with the New York Lottery and New York State Gaming Commission over the last couple of years to write and pass new regulations around lottery courier services is encouraging in this regard, and indicative of growing adoption around this business model.

New Hampshire Lottery says the DoJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act is unenforceable since it doesn’t make sense in the context of PASPA’s repeal. A recent federal court ruling stated the Wire Act applies only to sports betting. What do you take from these stands, and what are your prospects for this federal prohibition?

So the Court agreed with New Hampshire Lottery and so do I. In the 21st Century this makes no sense.

How is the current US sports betting landscape affecting both Jackpocket and SBTech? What’s your personal assessment of the different regulations in each state so far, one year after PASPA’s repeal, with some of them restricting online and mobile options?

At the moment, there’s a lot of potential to capitalize on the growing adoption, as well as opportunities to explore new game formats around sports and sports lottery. Each jurisdiction is a little different so optimization is a way off. Proper regulation and appropriate tax levels are very important.

What are SBTech strategies to approach this fast-changing landscape and to remain competitive within technology suppliers?

SBTech is a leader in sports especially when it comes to its technology. The architecture of the product is so innovative that we can ensure necessary changes and improvements can be made rapidly, effectively and in a proper manner.

Do you see media companies entering the sports betting business as an opportunity? What are your prospects for this new kind of partnerships in the US, and what would be the best approach for them?

I think we will see the major media companies enter the space. Some like Fox already have. It is such an opportunity given strong public support and the love of sports across the country. Online rather than retail betting sites also facilitate their involvement. As a BtoB provider with leading technology we would love to partner with them. Each seems to have its own approach so we will see how it evolves

What specific contributions do you find in SBTech partnership agreement with the SMP Compliance Academy? Could you give us examples?

The SMP Compliance Academy is an interactive management and communication platform allowing for the distribution, management and reporting of compliance and regulatory training content across the organization. One of the online platform’s main advantages is that it promotes compliance knowledge and aid compliance learning, as well as serving as the company’s home to other training documents and useful employment manuals which employees may need to review from time to time. Due to the importance of staff knowledge, training and awareness, such compliance and regulatory training is vital to all areas of the business, and we want to ensure that all employees understand the importance of compliance within our business sector, and create a successful internal culture of compliance. Just recently, we have circulated via the system an online interactive AML course to all the company’s employees who must complete it and pass a short quiz, and we purport to have more employees undergo dedicated and professional courses henceforward.

What can you tell us about your recent appointment to Galaxy Gaming’s board?

The other area which I am really interested in besides online is tables. My time at SHFL made me realize how important a part of the gaming business tables are. There are many opportunities in this area and in many ways tables are age agnostic. When Galaxy Gaming approached me and asked whether I would be interested in joining their board, I was very excited and honored. I  look forward to helping them grow and evolve into becoming the leading global table games provider.

Recently, Nevada’s Assembly Bill 221 expanded the state’s technology and manufacturing workforce by giving those 18 to 20 years legal status as a “gaming employee”. Do you think this measure could impact somehow on your business areas, or have a correlation in terms of younger people encouraged to work in the gaming technology sector?

To me technology should imply innovation. Why shouldn’t young smart technologists have the opportunity of developing their skills in Gaming? If not we will continue to see a brain drain to other sectors. So I see it as a huge positive.

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